Lincolnshire County Council’s decision to cut library services could face a judicial review after representatives from Public Interest Lawyers stepped in.
The lawyers, who are based in Birmingham, made the request to the High Court, on Wednesday, January 29, 2014 asking for the Court to issue an order quashing the Council’s decision to drastically reduce its library provision across the county, made on December 3.
The plan will mean volunteers or community groups will have to come forward to keep libraries in Kirton, Donington and Coningsby open.
Public Interest Lawyers’ Paul Heron said: “Great credit should go to Simon for caring enough about the library service in Lincolnshire to bring this legal action.
“We hope to convince the court that as a matter of law the County Council have not acted correctly in the way they have conducted the consultation process and ignored the wishes of people in Lincolnshire. I would urge all to once again lobby their councillors and ask them not to make these cuts which will devastate the library service if they are carried out.” Lincolnshire County Council was made aware of the request, made on behalf of Simon Draper, of Lincoln, on Friday, January 31.
The lawyers argue that the consultation was ‘unlawful’ because they say decisions had already been taken before the consultation began.
They also say the Council failed to take due regard of its obligations under the Public Sector Equality Duty as required by the Equality Act 2010.
They argue the Council had already identified that disabled people, older people, young people and women, were going to be hit by their plans but failed to ensure that the harm this was going to cause was prevented.
In addition, it is claimed the Council failed to properly consider the proposal by Greenwich Leisure, a charitable social enterprise, to take over the whole Library Service whilst largely maintaining the library network.
Finally they say the County Council Library Service will no longer be a comprehensive and efficient library service, as required by the Public Libraries and Museums Act 1964.
Save Lincolnshire Libraries said it welcomed the request for a judicial review and was pleased that Simon Draper had taken this step.
Spokesman Phil Dilks: “We regret that Lincolnshire County Council is steam-rolling ahead with seriously flawed cuts to remove statutory provision for more than thirty libraries rather than listen to 25,000 council tax payers who have actively supported our campaign to Save Lincolnshire’s Libraries.”
A spokesman for Lincolnshire County Council said they
Coun Nick Worth, executive member for libraries aid the council were considering their response but had the strongest possible defence and would continue implementing the plans.
He said: “We’ve only recently received the details of the claim, and are now beginning to consider our response.
“Before the decision was made, the council carried out extensive consultation and thoroughly considered the impact on our residents. So we’ll be presenting the strongest possible defence, showing that all the necessary steps needed to make a lawful decision were taken.
“In light of this, it is our intention to continue the implementation of the changes and to work with communities that have expressed an interest in working with us to deliver library services across the county.”